From the Southern District of New York there is an update in William Henig’s overtime lawsuit against Quinn Emanuel. For those of you that haven’t been following this case closely, Henig is the contract attorney-cum-plaintiff suing Quinn for overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act and New York State law claiming the document review work he was hired to perform does not amount to the practice of law. It seems the discovery dispute between the parties has finally been resolved, but not before some good, old-fashioned litigation name calling.
For people keeping score at home, Henig won the first battle in this overtime war last December when Judge Ronnie Abrams ruled in the plaintiff’s favor on a Motion to Dismiss and granted limited discovery. On April 29th Henig sent a letter to the Magistrate Judge in this matter, Kevin N. Fox, alleging that Quinn wasn’t playing fair.
“Instead of producing all documents and information that relate to the question of whether plaintiff was engaged in the practice of law, Quinn has simply produced the documents that it believes support its own position that plaintiff was engaged in practice of law,” the plaintiff said.
“Quinn’s discovery stonewalling is particularly egregious as Quinn insisted on setting a discovery deadline of June 13, 2014, while also producing voluminous documents but excluding documents responsive to a large number of plaintiff’s requests,” Henig said.
Yeah, in this context, I don’t think “stonewalling” means a night of revelry in Greenwich Village.
In Quinn’s response, they claim to have already produced 200,000 pages in discovery. They also leaned heavily on the premise that the additional discovery is outside of the scope of the limited discovery Judge Abrams ordered back in December.
“Plaintiff’s current fishing expedition would improperly multiply Quinn Emanuel’s costs and undermine Judge Abrams’ limitation of discovery to the sole issue of whether [Henig] practiced law.”
See, I told you not to get too excited over Henig’s ability to survive a Motion to Dismiss. The limited nature of the discovery, as well as a lot of the rhetoric in that decision seemed to show the judge was already leaning in the direction of the defendants.
The dispute was resolved over a teleconference last week. Though we do not know the ultimate resolution (the docket only includes a short note indicating the dispute was resolved, with no details as to what discovery ultimately will include in this case), my outlook for the rest of the document monkeys out there is still pretty grim. Even if Henig got a full discovery victory, too much of this case seems to revolve around what specific actions the contract attorneys took in this exact case to spark any industry-wide change. If the rest of us are actually going to see any additional money (or change) as a result of this case, the central issue in the case would need to be about the nature and role of contract attorneys as opposed to the specific calls Hening made in this one case.
Now, I wonder who is going to review those 200,000 pages…
Alex Rich is a T14 grad and Biglaw refugee who has worked as a contract attorney for the last 7 years… and counting. If you have a story about the underbelly of the legal world known as contract work, email Alex at email@example.com and be sure to follow Alex on Twitter @AlexRichEsq